A Web Presentation

Overview and Issues

BI Methods

BI Tips and Techniques

BI for K, 1-12 Grades 

Distance Learning BI

A Collaborative Effort by

Kate Fry, Bobbie Malone, and Kathee Rose


Overview and Issues


Bibliographic Instruction (BI):

Instructional programs designed to teach library users how to locate the information they need quickly and effectively. BI usually covers the library's system of organizing materials, the structure of the literature of the field, research methodologies appropriate to the discipline, and specific resources and finding tools (catalogs, indexing and abstracting services, bibliographic databases, etc.). In academic libraries, bibliographic instruction is usually course-related or course-integrated. Libraries which have a computer-equipped instruction lab are in a position to include hands-on practice in the use of online catalogs, electronic databases, and Internet resources. Instruction sessions are usually taught by an instructional services librarian with specialized training and experience in pedagogical methods. Synonymous with library instruction and library orientation.(Provided by the Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science.)

Information Literacy:

Skill in finding the information one needs, including an understanding of how libraries are organized, familiarity with the resources they provide (including information formats and automated search tools), and knowledge of commonly used research techniques. The concept also includes the skills required to critically evaluate information content, and an understanding of the technological infrastructure on which information transmission is based, including its social, political, and cultural context and impact.(Provided by the Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science.)


Recent terms used for bibliographic instruction, according to William Katz in his Introduction to Reference Work (v. 2, p. 167), include “information literacy” instruction, or “online” or “computer” instruction. Many reference librarians do not use the term “bibliographic instruction,” giving the reason that they associate it with print resources.They prefer more current terminology by using any of the terms, online instruction, computer instruction, information literacy instruction, or using a name of an academic class before the word “instruction,” such as an Eng 101 instruction.


A learning moment is when a library patron is willing, able and ready to learn and the instruction is available. The patron has a definite need, and frequently it is an immediate need (such as when a student has to complete an assignment), and the patron therefore, is receptive to listen and to learn at this moment.

The value of this moment is that the librarian can instruct not only searching and retrieving skills, but also critical thinking skills in evaluating information.These skills have the potential to transfer to future situations when the library user will seek information again and may possibly analyze the content, authority, or scope of information.The significant element in this interaction is the motivational desire of the library user’s willingness to learn.If the librarian responds appropriately to this cue, the library user will have gained more than just their information question answered. 


Many reference librarians believe that the most effective bibliographic instruction is at the point-of-need. Point-of-need is giving instruction at the moment when the library user is ready to learn.This could be in a formal instructional setting when a reference librarian visits a class and directs students in searching and locating information resources relevant to class assignments.Or it could be when a reference librarian provides reference services, whether in person on a one-to-one library-student interaction, or online through an Ask A Librarian email interaction, or on the phone.

This point-of-need instruction simply means that the librarian needs to be adaptable and flexible in using various teaching styles, methods, and technologies to promote discovery and learning with each library user.


There is a great deal of controversy disputing whether or not bibliographic instruction is still what library users want or need.Today and in the near future, librarians may be devoting their efforts instead of in group bibliographic instruction sessions, to designing library systems so easy to use that library instruction is not needed (Herrington, p. 383). Before future trends are addressed, there is a value of reviewing the longer historical perspective of library instruction.

Bibliographic instruction in libraries has a long history.Peter Hernon discovered little evidence of library instruction until the 1870s.Before 1870, librarians were primarily interested in the organization of libraries.After Melvil Dewey wrote in 1876 an article in the first issue of American Library Journal about how librarians should become also educators, in teaching readers how to select good books. (Herrington, p. 382). Because nineteenth century librarians wanted to support the democratic value that all people in the United States would benefit from being able to search for information, they began to provide programs in library instruction. 

During the beginning of the 20th century (1901-1920), bibliographic instruction was slow in becoming accepted, according to Mary Salony.In the 1930s, the demand for library instruction was written about in the literature with librarians trying new approaches. Bibliographic instruction began with showing library users how to search the card catalog and evolved to more evaluative types of skills, such as finding the best books. Between 1945 and 1970, library collections grew and new retrieval strategies were utilized.By 1950, library instruction was not stressed as much as technical services.By the 1960’s when there were visible strides in computers and technologies brought complexity to libraries, there was a beginning interest in library education. Instructional librarians utilized slides, closed-circuit television and films. (Herrington, p. 382). Beginning in public libraries, bibliographic instruction then moved into the school libraries and then eventually into college libraries. (Katz p. 167).

Laypersons and students rarely showed interest in bibliographic instruction over the years because they believed that librarians were more about answering reference questions than about teaching the process of searching, retrieving and evaluating information.This concept of reference assistance from librarians was more widespread because of a variety of reasons.One reason is there was a lack of librarians, so staffing a reference desk optimized access by the public to reference librarians. There weren’t enough reference librarians hired to also provide group bibliographic instruction, or lengthy, one on one research consultations.Another reason this concept that the librarian was more for providing answers than for providing instruction was because the access of information was centralized in a physical library building.Now with the decentralization of information, people’s information seeking behavior is becoming more self-directed. 


To expedite people’s ability to find information, librarians currently are in demand for instructing informally, as well as with formal information instruction sessions.This is particularly true in educational settings, where assignments revolve around finding information.Thus, partnerships between teachers and librarians have evolved.In the ideal setting, teachers create assignments in which students have access to information through their libraries in order to successfully complete homework.

In the past, most library users required only a minimum of help in searching and finding information.With more and more information available in electronic format, librarians have become in greater demand during the past five years because their technical expertise is being requested by library users for search strategies, as well as for computer hardware and software inquiries.Many electronic resources require sophisticated searches due to the idiosyncrasies of each electronic resource.

Different local practice at libraries address the issue of how their librarians meet the information instruction needs of their library users.There is differing perspectives by librarians regarding the validity of providing formal information instruction to library users.The opposing librarians’ perspective is that it is “foolish as it is unfair to laypersons to believe one may elucidate, explain, and otherwise teach a skill of such depth and importance in a matter of minutes or over a few single credit course hours.To think this can be done is to deny the profession. It is to substantially cheat the individual who walks away firm in the knowledge that he or she knows the library and its resources” (Katz p. 169).However, Katz does strongly promote that librarian should give instruction whenever a patron might benefit from instruction.In a situation when a library user expresses an interest in learning, this is when a learning moment appears, and an attentive librarian responds appropriately.

There has been a great deal of change in bibliographic instruction over the many years due to many factors related to pertinent developments such as diversification of formats of reference sources, particularly the recent development of electronic resources used for bibliographic instruction. Parallel to the current complex challenge of providing reference services, bibliographic instruction is equally as challenging for reference librarians in the current digital library environment.Reference staff that provide instruction have the added complexity of needing to address users in and out of the building since so many libraries have web pages for their users to access information.

Some of the current issues in bibliographic instruction involve: 

*formats changes in reference sources

*technological changes that impact on acquisition of reference resources used in bibliographic instruction

*access by library users, whether in the library building or at home, dependent on technology access, as well as the recent trends in library access points (such as the library catalog and other links on library web sites)

*information seeking characteristics of library users

*distance learning creates unique challenges for bibliographic instruction

*quantity of information has increased, particularly online, with a greater need for librarians to teach skills in evaluating information

*Communication tools for bibliographic instruction have changed and will continue to change.The use of interactive television can be used, for example, for bibliographic instruction at multiple sites simultaneously, as well as using chat software for one on one bibliographic instruction, or email.

*local practice of reference services staff in providing instruction (differing perspectives with each library how to address instruction for library users for both one on one and group instruction)


Many reference resources have shifted from print format to electronic format, depending on:

*the collection development needs of each library

*Acquisitions’ budget for each library (is it part of a consortium?)

*What formats are available for the content needs of each libraries collection development?

*Are there distance library users? If so, do library users have access to computers or machines (for video or sound recordings) to access the content of acquired library materials?


Librarians will continue to be creative in addressing new technologies as they evolve in library environments. With more and more life long learners, people of all ages will be seeking information in a myriad of multisensory formats.Librarians will continue to play the role of technician in bridging information to people’s needs and the way that they play this role may evolve in new ways of instructing. By optimizing communication technology, librarians could potentially utilize different communication tools to instruct. For instance, interactive television could be used to provide bibliographic instruction to people at distant geographical locations simultaneously, with all library users benefiting from each others questions and interactions. 

Librarians are thinking of new ways of helping the user become more self-sufficient in locating and retrieving information.The principles established in 1881 by the American Libraries Association encouraged students to become independent learners.Related to this concept, is the possibility that librarians devote more time to designing the information environment for ease and control by the library user, enabling the user to gain access to information (Herrington, p. 384). For instance, students at the University of Virginia are each currently given a hand held computer that they download their semester class readings.At the end of each semester, the students erase those readings and replace them with the new semester’s readings.The value of having required class readings available anywhere, anytime with them is very popular.

What if the future held a new model of library instruction in which a library system is so user friendly, so seamless, so easy to use that library users are self-sufficient in searching, finding, evaluating and customizing information?Reference and instructional librarians may spend their times instead of giving group instruction sessions to partnering across library departments with systems staff, as well as with faculty to create online subject guides available to many at their “point of need” where ever they are.


Altman, Ellen and Allan Pratt. “The JAL guide to the professional literature: library instruction.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 25:4, 337-338.

Baker, Betsy and Mary Ellen Litzinger. Evolving educational mission of the library.Chicago: Bibliographic Instruction Section, Association of College and Research Libraries, 1992.

Branch, Katherine. Sourcebook for bibliographic instruction.Chicago: Bibliographic Instruction Section, Association of College and Research Libraries, c1993.

Clark, Alice S. and Kay F. Jones, editors. Teaching librarians to teach: on-the-job training for bibliographic instruction librarians.MetuchenN.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1986.

D'Aniello, Charles A., editor. Teaching bibliographic skills in history: a sourcebook for historians and librarians. WestportConn.Greenwood Press, 1993.

Diem, Richard A. Computers in education: a research bibliographyNew YorkGarland Pub., 1988.

Dusenbury, Carolyn … [et al.]. Read this first: an owner's guide to the new model statement of objectives for academic bibliographic instruction.ChicagoIL: Bibliographic Instruction Section, Association of College and Research Libraries, American Library Association, 1991.

Farber, Evan. “College libraries and the teaching/learning process: a 25-year reflection.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 25:3 (May 1999), 337-338.

Herrington, Verlene J. “Way beyond BI: a look to the future.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 24:5 (Sept. 1998), 381-386.

Katz, William A. Introduction to Reference Work. Volume 1, Basic Information Services. Volume 2, Reference Services and Reference Processes.Boston: McGraw Hill, 2002.

Learning to teach : workshops on instruction : a project of the Learning to Teach Task Force.Chicago: Bibliographic Instruction Section, Association of College and Research Libraries, American Library Association, 1993.

National LOEX Library Instruction Conference (18th : 1990 : Eastern MichiganUniversity). Judging the validity of information sources : teaching critical analysis in bibliographic instruction : papers and session materials presented at the Eighteenth National LOEX Library Instruction Conference held at Eastern Michigan University 11 to 12 May 1990, and related resource materials gathered by the LOEX Clearinghouse.Ann ArborMich.: Published for Learning Resources and Technologies, Eastern Michigan University, by Pierian Press, 1991.

Martin, Lyn Elizabeth M., editor. The challenge of Internet literacy : the instruction-Web convergence.New YorkHaworth Press, c1997.

Mellon, Constance A. Bibliographic instruction : the second generation.LittletonColo. : Libraries Unlimited, 1987.

Mensching, Glenn E., Jr. and Teresa B. Mensching, editors. Coping with information illiteracy : bibliographic instruction for the information age : papers presented at the Seventeenth National LOEX Library Instruction Conference held in Ann ArborMichigan 4 and 5 May 1989.Ann ArborMich. : Published for Learning Resources and Technologies, Eastern Michigan University by Pierian Press, 1989.

O’Brien, Patricia and Bonnie Gratch Libutti. Teaching information retrieval and evaluation skills to education students andpractitioners : a casebook of applicationsChicago : Association of College and Research Libraries, c1995.

Renford, Beverly and Linnea Hendrickson.Bibliographic instruction: a handbookNew York : Neal-Schuman Publishers, 1980.

Schwarzwalder, Robert. “The death of the end-user.” EContent 23:4 (Aug/Sept 2002), 73-75.

Shirato, Linda, editor. National LOEX Library Instruction Conference (19th : 1991 : Eastern MichiganUniversity). Working with faculty in the new electronic library : papers and session materials presented at the Nineteenth National LOEX Library Instruction Conference held at EasternMichiganUniversity 10 to 11 May 1991, and related resource materials gathered by the LOEX Clearinghouse.Ann ArborMichigan : Published for Learning Resources and Technologies, Eastern Michigan University, by Pierian Press, 1992.

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Bibliographic Instruction Methods

Each bibliographic instruction is determined by the librarian on what sources of information the library user wants to use.This will determine the content of the instruction interaction.For instance if the user wants journal articles, then the librarian will address how to search different access points for attaining journal citations, and then retrieving the journals that are cited in the citations.If the user wants to use only print journal articles, this will vary the instruction as to locating only print journal articles. Here are some of the traditional instruction methods:


This is a very popular instruction session because many library users need assistance in learning how to search online. There are two different kinds of approaches. One is providing a “hands on” session where library users sit at computer workstations and the librarian shows on a large screen search steps and strategies for searching in computer databases, retrieving, and evaluating information. The library users actually perform searches on a computer during the instruction session.The advantage of this session is that users may retain more instruction by doing it directly themselves.The disadvantage of this session is that each user goes at their own pace, so the instructor has to address this.The best way would be to have a rover or more than one rover to help in the hands on session so that the time is more effectively used to keep learners on track.

The other type of electronic resource instructional sessions is a general session where the instructor has a large group and there is only one computer in the room which the librarian uses to navigate in instructing users how to search, retrieve and analyze information.The advantage of this is that all students are at the same focal point where the instructor is on the overhead.The disadvantage is that the students may not retain as much information by not doing a hands on session.


The librarian orientates users to different service points in the library, as well as different types of formats and collections.Many reference librarians report that the overall value of this type of instruction is to reinforce that the library is a friendly place to visit to look for different information, and to leave the library users with the impression that they can ask the librarians at reference services, any question they might have when they come in to use the library.Most library users don’t remember much of the specifics from the service points of the tour, however, they walk away with an impression about the library’s ability to answer their questions.

Libraries, particularly academic libraries, may also provide additional information about their libraries to supplement the in-person tours.For instance, depending on if a library has users that come in person, or if they have library users that use the library web site, as well as come into the building, other types of information would be beneficial. For instance, libraries with web sites can provide an online tour (see Northern Arizona University’s Cline Library’s Passport tour).Libraries could also provide video tours available for viewing in the library, or they may also provide printed maps.Signage is one tool that can assist library users be more self-sufficient in their use of the library in finding different collections in the library. 

Many tours include a brief session on how to search the online public access catalog, or OPAC, with different access points of keyword, subject, author or title searches. 

Public library tours are usually smaller than academic library tours, generally one-on-one, and may use the same time of visual aids such as handouts that provide a layout of the library.Some public libraries partner with schools and provide tours for elementary, middle school or high schools students (Katz p.172).


Related to the point-of-need concept, the most effective type of bibliographic instruction, according to Katz and many reference librarians, is the one that relates to a class.A course or series of lectures may be taught by the librarian, or the teacher, or both.More recently, it tends to be the combination of the teacher and librarian. 


Related to instruction online, libraries are providing helpful tutorials to help them become more self-sufficient in their quest for information. One of the more specific kinds of tutorials is RIO (Research Instruction Online) that was created at the University of Arizona Library web site to assist library users in searching for information.

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There is an art to bibliographic instruction. Just as in any other art, mastery is a combination of inspiration and perspiration. For teaching library skills, 98% perspiration and 2% inspiration seems about right at first glance. To many librarians, the idea of getting up in front of people and instructing them is scary. Fear of presenting and stage fright may even cause some librarians to avoid the task whenever possible. Nevertheless, bibliographic instruction is necessary, and once an instructor becomes familiar with some tips and techniques for presenting may even become less of a nightmare and more of an adventure.

    The building blocks of presenting begin with the individual. The most important part of the way you perform is based upon the way YOU prepare. 

Your Physical Preparation

The following physical issues can seriously impact (for good or ill) your bibliographic instruction. These points are from LaGuardia's book, Becoming a Library Teacher. (pg 10).

*Be well rested, get at least eight hours of sleep the night before you are due to instruct. You will focus better, you'll have more energy throughout the class and your classroom dynamics will be better.

*Exercise, in addition to stamina and energy, exercise helps you with breath control and agility in front of a class.

*Clothing. Wear something which makes you comfortable and confident, but remember to layer, because no matter what the beginning temperature is in your setting, teaching is work and your body temperature will fluctuate. 

*Eye contact. At first, look at your audience right between the eyes or in the middle of their forehead, eventually become comfortable enough with your audience to begin making eye to eye contact, when YOU are comfortable with it. 

*Movement and positioning. Go early to your classroom or area in which you will instruct. Become familiar with it and the ways in which you can move around as you teach. Try not to get locked into one place in which to stand all the instructional period.

*Stance and body language. Have you ever seen a speaker standing clutching a podium? After a while you become tense too, just watching them be tense. Try to project the best possible posture you can, stand tall, face the class, and be receptive and welcoming.

*Eating and drinking. What and how much, you eat and drink before a class or presentation are major considerations that can have enormous impact on your performance. Remember though, it is perfectly all right to have a bottle or glass of water available to you, and to sip from it during your presentation. Dry mouth is awful while teaching and sipping your water will give you a moment to breathe and catch your thoughts as well.

*Voice. Your voice can be the single most powerful instrument you have for teaching, if you use it well. On the other hand, if you never vary your tone and drone on, you might as well be reading the telephone book for all the excitement and interest you will generate in your audience.

*Expression. A panic filled expression is just not acceptable when you are trying to teach others. You might want to practice a few "fake" expressions just in case. Try... calming blandness, interested concern, thoughtful consideration. 

*Breathing. Ever been speaking so fast that you almost literally trip over your own words? Remembering to breathe during your instruction will slow you down, make you more understandable to your audience and ensure against fainting from nervous hyperventilation. It also gives your students a chance to formulate questions (and maybe even ask them) as you are re-oxygenating. 

Your Mental Preparation

    Now that we have thought about the physical side of preparation for bibliographic instruction, the mental preparation becomes important. These points are from LaGuardias' book as well. 

*Observe others. Attend lectures, sit-in on other presentations, visit classes, and watch videos. Find a master teacher to emulate.

*Role-play. Try the tools you pick up from others. These tools include mannerisms, gestures, expressions, pacing, and methods of emphasis. Try out techniques and approaches, experiment as much as you can.

*Knowledge base. It's important to be fully aware that we are professionals with a highly-specialized, valuable body of knowledge and to go into classrooms armed with that information. We know more than they do about bibliographical instruction.  (Confidence building, isn't it?)

*It's all public relations. Your primary goal in library instruction is to enhance the chances of your learners coming back and using the library effectively in the future. 

Your Organizational Preparation

Lizabeth Wilson, from Programs that Work (pgs 1-5) brought up the following points in her talk on teaching and learning in libraries:

*Programs that work keep the learner at the center of all efforts. Without the learner, there is no reason for instruction programs to exist. 

*Programs that work are based on real, not perceived, learner needs. By involving learners in the development of programs, you increase your chances that what you are building makes sense.

*To be learner-centered, programs must keep in touch with students. Population shifts and changes are causing an increase in older, part-time, commuter, distance learning, and returning students; an increasing ethnic mix; and the continued influx of international students.

*Programs that work depend upon collaborative efforts. Collaboration brings together the widest range of talents and resources to solve a problem. 

*Programs that work are the result of people and personalities.

*Programs that work provide continual learning at all levels. 

Your student's learning styles

An important point to remember in preparing for bibliographic instruction is that students have learning styles. Although everyone has an individual learning style, there are three main ways of learning that instructors should keep in mind as they prepare materials. The three primary learning styles are: auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Try to include all three ways of learning in your instructional efforts.

*Auditory learners learn through hearing, and they like lectures, speeches, traditional classroom presentations, and detailed explanations.  This is the learning style to which the school system is traditionally geared. 

*Visual learners need to see something to learn it. Visual learners like pictures, charts, graphs, diagrams, and other types of visual aids. Visual learners were disadvantaged in traditional classrooms and with print-based refere4nce material, but are generally thriving in the highly visual environment of the World Wide Web.

*Kinesthetic learners learn by doing. They like hands-on training, and are not afraid to pick up the mouse and jump right in. In fact, they often forget to listen for instruction since they prefer to try things themselves. 

"The benefits of library instruction accrue to the user who receives the instruction, the library staff who give it, the library as an institution, the larger community of which the library is a part, the various disciplines, and society in general." (Beaubien, 251) 

Web Resources

I found the following site to be very helpful with lots of great links and information on Bibliographic Instruction. Enjoy.

U.C. Berkeley Library Web

Bibliographic Instruction Resources on the Internet
Introduction: what is this site for?
B.I. Articles Available on the Web
Collections of Instructional Material for Library Research
Library Research Tutorials
Online Discussions about B.I.
Other Guides to Bibliographic Instruction Resources

Introduction: What is this Site For?

The Web has offered librarians a unique opportunity to share their instructional materials and techniques with one another, and to document services for their patrons at whatever level of detail the patron requires. As I explore ways to use the WWW to support Bibliographic Instruction at Berkeley, I've found it very valuable to look at what other libraries are doing with the technology. 

This site is a collection of materials related to bibliographic instruction, and hopefully, a source of ideas and inspiration for other librarians and instructors. I have made a distinction between collections of guides and WWW tutorials, though this distinction is actually difficult to make in some cases. Collections refer to a site where the documents stand alone and could be marked up versions of library handouts. Tutorials refer to sites that are broken up into a step-by-step research guide from the researcher's point of view. These may also contain tests or assignments to teach specific research skills. The Tutorials section offers what I think are the most valuable examples of how bibliographic instructors can use the web to convey research skills.

B.I. Articles Available on the Web

From the St.NorbertCollege Library. Originally published in a St. Norbert College Faculty Newsletter, Herro's tips are valuable points to consider for Librarians and Faculty at any institution. 

Janicke, Lisa. Planning an Electronic Classroom: An Annotated Bibliography

From the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. A bibliography of resources for creating a classroom for bibliographic instruction, including design, proposal, and ordering equipment. 

Joseph, Miriam. Term Paper Alternatives

From the Saint LouisUniversity's Pius XII Memorial Library. A detailed list of alternatives to the traditional research paper. Each suggestion fosters specific research skills. Ms. Joseph lists a number of sources to consult for more assignment ideas. 

Collections of Instructional Material for Library Research

An extensive collection of detailed instructions for using print and electronic resources at UC Berkeley. This site includes instructions for searches the online catalogs, CD-ROMs, online databases available via MELVYL, and study guides for particular r fields. 

Ohio State: Gateway to Information

This site includes both documentation for OhioState's print and electronic resources and tips for research such as "time saving strategies". 

Library Research Tutorials

A seven step guide to conducting research, from developing a topic to citing the references you find. This tutorial is fully developed and very much geared to the researcher's point of view. 

The Library Explorer from the University of Iowa

A beautifully done guide to library research, including extensive information on using reference materials, printed indexes and more. Click on "Table of Contents" to get an immediate sense of how complete this tutorial is. 

Welcome to LUISQuest on the WWW 

From the University of Central Florida. A tutorial for searching LUIS, the local online catalog. An excellent searching tutorial that conveys to users how to search the catalog, interpret the search results, and what to do with the resulting information. 

Gateway to the Internet Navigator 

This tutorial is part of a cooperative distance learning course on the Internet created by a number of universities and libraries in Utah. An excellent example of how Bibliographic Instructors might use the Web to reach library patrons outside the library. This site includes quizzes, and course evaluations. It can be used both as a distance learning course with instructor contact by e-mail, or as a solo self-paced tutorial.

NMSU Library Shortcuts: Learn the library the interactive way. 

New MexicoStateUniversity's guide to conducting library research. 

Online Discussions about B.I.

Subscribe: listserv@bingvmb.cc.binghamton.edu 

Bibliographic Instruction Discussion Group. BI-L is a computer conference dedicated to discussing ways of assisting library users in efficiently exploiting the resources available in and through the library of the 1990s. 


Subscribe: mailbase@mailbase.ac.uk 

LIS-CTILIS is a discussion list for the topic of library user education (sometimes called bibliographic instruction or library orientation instruction, especially in theUSA), and more especially the use of computer-assisted methods in the delivery of this instruction. 

Other Library-Related Listservs

Other Collections of Bibliographic Instruction Materials

Part of a series on Innovative Internet Applications in all aspects of Librarianship. This page links to examples of Internet instruction being addressed as part of Bibliographic Instruction programs. From MiddleTennesseeStateUniversity

Copyright © 1995-2000 by the Library, University of CaliforniaBerkeley. All rights reserved. 
Document maintained on server: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/ by Teaching Library 
Graphics by Mary Scott 
Last update 4/00. Server manager: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/Comments/


PowerPoint Tips and Tricks





Beaubien, Anne K. and Sharon A. Hogan, Learning the Library: Concepts and Methods for Effective Bibliographic  Instruction, R.R. Bowker Company, New York, 1982.

Kuhlthau, Carol Collier, Teaching the Library Research Process, 2nd ed, The Scarecrow Press, Inc. Metuchen, NJ and London, 1994

LaGuardia, Cheryl and Christine K. Oka, Becoming a Library Teacher, The New Library Series, Number 3, Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc. New YorkLondon, 2000. 

Shirato, Linda, editor, Programs that Work: Library Orientation Series, Papers and Session Materials presented at the Twenty-fourth National LOEX Library Instruction Conference, Pierian Press, Ann ArborMichigan 1997.

Thomsen, Elizabeth. Rethinking Reference: TheReference Librarian’s PracticalGuide for Surviving Constant Change,Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.New YorkLondon, 1999. 

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Bibliographic Instruction: 

For Kindergarten, 1-12 Grades

Bibliographic instruction is often taught in single sessions and while some understanding of how to use a library can be taught in this format, it is felt by many librarians that the full effectiveness of available resources are seldom tapped. In order to teach a student how to use the available resources to the fullest, bibliographic instruction should be included in the core curriculum of the educational process by librarians and teachers at the primary and secondary levels. This would fulfill the objective of teaching children ‘how to learn’.These ideas bring up issues, such as time, the need for qualified library instructors, subject matter, and the needs of the students and educators, but the bottom line is that bibliographic instructions help better prepare the student for academic success.
Bibliographic Instruction (BI):

Instructional programs designed to teach library users how to locate the information they need quickly and effectively. BI usually covers the library's system of organizing materials, the structure of the literature of the field, research methodologies appropriate to the discipline, and specific resources and finding tools (catalogs, indexing and abstracting services, bibliographic databases, etc.). In academic libraries, bibliographic instruction is usually course-related or course-integrated. Libraries which have a computer-equipped instruction lab are in a position to include hands-on practice in the use of online catalogs, electronic databases, and Internet resources. Instruction sessions are usually taught by an instructional services librarian with specialized training and experience in pedagogical methods. Synonymous with library instruction and library orientation.(Provided by the Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science.)

Information Literacy:

Skill in finding the information one needs, including an understanding of how libraries are organized, familiarity with the resources they provide (including information formats and automated search tools), and knowledge of commonly used research techniques. The concept also includes the skills required to critically evaluate information content, and an understanding of the technological infrastructure on which information transmission is based, including its social, political, and cultural context and impact.(Provided by the Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science.)

As can been seen by the definitions of Bibliographic Instructions and Information Literacy there is a vast body of content to these factors in librarianship that cannot be absorbed by K, 1-12 in one, or even a few sessions. The goal of bibliographic instruction is to acquaint students with the basic principles and steps involved in library research, to familiarize them with print and electronic information sources, and that provide information in subject areas for assignments.

The following are ways that Bibliographic Instruction can be incorporated into curricula, with each part being adapted to age appropriate levels.

Ways to teach Kindergarten, 1-12 library users how to access and use information by:

*Developing age appropriate orientation programs for electronic and print information formats. 
*Teaching students how to locate and use library materials.

*Introducing students to search strategies that include: researching by subject, keywords and search terms, Boolean searches, truncation searches, and methods in analyzing research questions.

*Introducing students to searching the library's online catalogues and indexes.

*Helping students become aware of different formats: electronic, print, video, microfiche, microfilm, etc.

*Helping students locate and use materials for term papers, book reports and other school related learning projects.

*Teaching how to develop bibliographies of sources.

Librarians can collaborate with teachers to: 

*Develop bibliographies of sources related to subjects being taught.

*Develop sessions that teach students about relevant print and electronic resources. 

*By producing library research assignments and curricula. 

*Create opportunities for hands-on training on electronic resources.

Librarians can help students to:

*Develop search strategies, focus and narrow a topic, locate materials on specific subjects. 

*Evaluate information resources, documents and other sources. 

*Recognize differences between primary and secondary literature.

*Develop basic information research and assessment skills.

*Learn how to critically evaluate information based on sound criteria. 

*Competently use information technology. 

*Adapt to new and changing information technology.

Further learning opportunities for students can be found by participating in:

*Tours - to orient students to the layout of the Library and to the materials and the services available. 

*Classes/Workshops - held either in regular classrooms or at the Library, with classes corresponding directly to subjects being taught and discussed, and to the assignments, papers, and projects being assigned. 

Students will learn to:

*Analyze a topic and identify key concepts. 

*Formulate a successful search strategy. 

*Understand and use controlled vocabulary and thesauri. 

*Select and use appropriate print and electronic research tools for their particular assignment. 

*Critically evaluate sources regarding their relevancy, authority, accuracy, objectivity, and content.

*Integrate these information literacy concepts and skills into their academic experience and apply them to a field of study. 

Bibliographic instruction should be adapted to age, grade and ability levels but should be incorporated into every curriculum as a core subject. So much of learning today is based on the ability to access information that it is imperative that our children be taught ‘how’ to access it at an early age and that they be taught how to do so in the most effective and thorough manner. Bibliographic instruction makes the research process easier and quicker for the students and those students who are given bibliographic instruction will have an edge academically.


Arnold, Judith M. "'I Know It When I See It': Assessing Good Teaching." Research Strategies 16.1 (1998).

Barclay, Donald. "Evaluating Library Instruction: Doing the Best You Can with What You Have." RQ 33.2 (1993).

Bodi, Sonia. "Critical Thinking and Bibliographic Instruction: the Relationship." Journal of Academic Librarianship 14:3 (1988).

Bodi, Sonia. "Teaching Effectiveness and Bibliographic Instruction: The Relevance of Learning Styles." College & Research Libraries 51 (1990).

Bren, Barbara, Beth Hillemann and Victoria Topp. "Effectiveness of Hands-On Instruction of Electronic Resources." Research Strategies 16.1 (1998).

Callison, Daniel. "Key Words in Instruction." School Library Media Activities Monthly 14.8 (1998). 

Chodorow, Stanley A. and Lynda Corey Claassen. "Academic Partnership: a Future for Special Collections." Journal of Library Administration 20.3-4 (1995).

Craver, Kathleen W. "Internet Search Skills for the College-Bound." School Library Journal 44.11 (1998).

Crow, Trudy. "Critical Thinking in the Research Process." School Libraries in Canada 12 (1992).

Dabbour, Katherine Strober. "Applying Active Learning Methods to the Design of Library Instruction for a Freshman Seminar." College & Research Libraries 58.4 (1997).

Dillinger, Mary Ada and Terry L. Weech. "A Study of Bibliographic Instruction in Small Private Liberal Arts Colleges." Research Strategies 12.2 (1994).

Drueke, Jeanetta. "Active Learning in the University Library Instruction Classroom." Research Strategies 10.2 (1992).

Dupuis, Elizabeth A. "The Times They Are A'Changin": Students, Technology, and Instructional Services." Reference Services Review 26.3-4 (1998).

Edwards, Sherri. "Bibliographic Instruction Research: An Analysis of the Journal Literature From 1977 to 1991." Research Strategies 12.2 (1994).

Engeldinger, Eugene A. "Bibliographic Instruction and Critical Thinking: The Contribution of the Annotated Bibliography." RQ 28 (Winter 1998).

Herrington, Verlene J. "Way Beyond BI: A Look to the Future." Journal of Academic Librarianship 24.5 (1998).

Parks, Joan and Dana Hendrix. "Integrating Library Instruction into the Curriculum Through Freshman Symposium." Reference Services Review 24.1 (1996).

Quinn, Brian. "Non-BI Librarians' Involvement with Library Instruction: Assessing the Evidence." Research Strategies 12.2 (1994).

Rader, Hannelore. "Bibliographic Instruction or Information Literacy.”C&RL News 51.1 (1990).

Rader, Hannelore B. "Library Instruction and Information Literacy – 1997." Reference Services Review 26.3-4 (1998).

Stein, Linda L. and Jane M. Lamb. "Not Just Another BI: Faculty-Librarian Collaboration to Guide Students Through the Research Process." Research Strategies 16.1 (1998). 

Winner, Marian C. "Librarians as Partners in the Classroom: An Increasing Imperative." Reference Services Review 26.1 (1998).

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Distance Learning: Bibliographic Instruction in Academic Settings

Most distant learners are university or college students that are computer library users seeking information 24/7, although as more and more public libraries provide electronic resources, their users will be requesting reference services and resources also 24/7. Currently, academic libraries are addressing distance learners needs through a variety of information resources that often involve planning on the part of the remote user in order to complete assignments in a timely fashion.

Distance learning allows college students to complete classes and attain degrees where ever they are located, thus attracting more non-traditional students to return to school for coursework.“Remote users” are what librarians and educators call distance learners, as they may access their lectures at home.What make this all possible are learners who are open to adapting quickly to technology and collaborative software. For example, computers and videotapes provide communication tools for faculty to give lectures to distance learners.In the United States between 60 and 65 percent of four and two year colleges provide distance education, according to the NationalCenter for Education Statistics. It is projected that over 75 to 85 percent of universities will provide distance classes. (Katz V. 2, p. 178-179).

Libraries can provide access to information to distance users through different library options that include:

1.Electronic course reserves: Instructors contact the library to request specific readings for courses they are teaching to distance learners.The disadvantages of this option is that there are copyright restrictions librarians must abide by in terms of the amount of content they can provide online, as well as the staff time involved in searching, retrieving information needed, as well as scanning in documents to put on reserve, thus requiring instructors to plan ahead of deadlines for distance students. Another disadvantages: sometimes servers are down so information may not be accessible at all times or if it is an electronic book on reserve, some e books can only be checked out, or viewed by one student at a time, such as Netlibrary electronic books.

2.Information holdings of the library: Electronic full-text information is the most desirable in terms of access by remote users. Those that are available online can be directly accessed by the distance learner. Access to material that is in print housed in the library is sent by mail to distance users, if they are books. Advantage: the distance user does not have to travel to the library.The disadvantage of this service is that there is a waiting period for the distance user to receive library materials, thus requiring them to plan ahead for class deadlines.

3.Information holdings of other libraries and a service to request those materials: Libraries can provide distance students access to OCLC’s Worldcat to search a large database that would list comprehensive titles on various subjects.Then the distance user can request interlibrary loan of materials not held by the library required to complete assignments.Advantage: can request information held at other institutions that the student’s library.Disadvantage: this also takes planning on the part of the distance learner because there is a delay in receiving materials.

4.Online tutorials on how to use library resources, such as RIO, Research Instruction Online for searching journal articles. Advantage: increases self-sufficiency of distance learners. Disadvantage: gaps in searching process may discourage distance learners. For example, after a student finds an article citation, they don’t know what database it is buried in, so they may need further instruction by a reference librarian on what database has the particular year and volume of a journal for a journal article they need.

5.Reference question services: distance users can call on the phone or email reference librarians questions they have related to anything.These types of service are very popular.Email is especially used a lot because students can email questions anytime of the day or night, whenever they are online.Turnaround time is usually within 24 hours.Advantage: distance student does not need to set foot in the library.Disadvantage: the reference interview is reduced to written words that may be fragmented so it may take longer because the librarian may need to write back to the distance learner with questions to find out more information in order to assist the student.Advantage: flexibility for the remote user in being at home and having questions answered, if willing to wait for the reply.

6.Reference web pages: individual web pages for different subject areas that list current electronic resources available through links to various electronic sources of information that can include relevant full-text journals, databases that can search for article citations and abstracts, electronic books related to the topic, web sites relevant to the subject area, and online encyclopedias, dictionaries and other reference sources.

Distance learners need quality reference resources and services in order to be successful in their academic endeavors. Reference librarians who acknowledge distance learners’ information needs and advocate resources to support these needs, are at the heart of any distance learning program.These reference services are the modern day replacement of bibliographic instruction and are directly related to four factors: quality of information available to distance learners; available technology to access information for all learners; support by universities for all students; effective instructors who optimize distance learning and are supported by their institutions in regards to technological infrastructures, funding for library resources and library staff to support their teaching endeavors.


Barnes, Susan, Katherine Holmes, and Mem Stahley. “Library Instruction at a Distance: The High Tech/High Touch Mix: Three Case Studies.” In The Eighth Off-Campus Library Services Conference Proceedings: Providence, Rhode Island, April 22-24, 1998, compiled by P. Steven Thomas and Maryhelen Jones, Mount Pleasant, MI: Central Michigan University, 1998, 183-195.

Bean, Rick. “Lights ... Camera ... Instruction: Library Instruction Via Interactive Television.” In The Eighth Off-Campus Library Services Conference Proceedings: Providence, Rhode Island, April 22-24, 1998, compiled by P. Steven Thomas and Maryhelen Jones, Mount Pleasant, MI: Central Michigan University, 1998, 29-34.

Dewald, Nancy H. “Transporting Good Library Instruction Practices into the Web Environment: An Analysis of Online Tutorials.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 25:1 (Jan. 1999), 26-31.

Doherty, John J., Mary Anne Hansen, and Kathryn K. Kaya. “Teaching Information Skills in the Information Age: The Need for Critical Thinking.” Library Philosophy and Practice 1:2 (Spring 1999) Available online: http://www.uidaho.edu/~mbolin/doherty.htm

Evans, Sean. “A Quick guide to using the web for academic research: verifiable information on the web.” August 17, 2001, latest revision.<http://jan.ucc.nua.edu/~rse/verifiable_information.htm>

Kapoun, Jim. “Teaching Undergrads Web Evaluation: A Guide for Library Instruction.” College & Research Libraries News 59:7 (July/August 1998), 522-523.

Katz, William A. Introduction to Reference Work. Volume 1, Basic Information Services. Volume 2, Reference Services and Reference Processes.Boston: McGraw Hill, 2002.

Mishra, Sanjaya. “Teaching Information Literacy to Distance Learners.” University News (New Dehli) 35: 20 (May 19, 1997), 3-6.

Orr, Debbie, Margaret Appleton, and Trish Andrews. “Teaching Information Literacy Skills to Remote Students Through an Interactive Workshop.” Research Strategies 14:4 (Fall 1996), 224-233.

Ruess, Diane E. and Sharon M. West. “Library and Information Literacy for Distance Education Students.” Journal of Distance Education 10: 2 (Fall 1995), 73-85.

Wilson, Vicky. “Developing the Adult Independent Learner: Information Literacy and the Remote External Student.” Distance Education 15:2 (1994), 254-278.

|HomeOverview & IssuesBibliographic Instruction Methods |

|Bibliographic Instruction Tips & Techniques|BI for Kindergarten, 1-12 Grades

| |Distance Learning : Bibliographic Instruction in Academic Settings|